England batting a source of mirth

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The Independent Online

Mark Taylor, the former Australia captain, believes that English cricket is in the doldrums because players, even those at Test level, are taught bad habits.

"The English have too many coaches and they are taught from a very young age to play the wrong way," he said. According to Taylor, the English tendency to over-complicate the art of batting has long been a source of amusement to the Australians. It is certainly one that they have wasted little time in exploiting, as the results of recent series can bear witness to.

Sam Loxton, a member of Sir Donald Bradman's 1948 Invincibles, arguably Australia's greatest-ever team, was prone to carry around with him a revealing letter from "The Don".

In the letter, Bradman criticised the batting stance of the former England captain Graham Gooch. "How can he expect to bat properly when he waves his bat around behind him like that?" asked Bradman.

Taylor has similar doubts about the techniques of some of the current top England batsmen. "Goochie still managed to hit the ball pretty well, but I have seen some of them stand with their feet about a metre apart," he said.

"You can't get any balance like that. And some of them, like Nasser Hussain, open the face so much they are batting with only the side of the bat.

"The laws give you four-and-a-half inches to play with, so why not use them?"

Taylor rejected the stock excuse that too much one-day cricket was having a negative effect. "You can't blame one-day cricket," he said.

"A good player with a good technique can switch from one form of the game to the other without losing the basic skills.

"The main difference is that in limited-overs cricket you have to score more quickly and hit the ball more often, but you still do it in the same way."